MUMS have hit out after post-natal beds were suspended at Stroud Maternity Hospital.
Earlier this month, the SNJ reported that beds are currently only available for six to 12 hours following a birth with new mums who require extra care being offered the option of home visits or attending another centre.
The change is being reviewed and has been blamed on staffing issues.
Last week a petition was launched to keep the unit fully operational which has been signed by more than 6,000 people.
Campaigners say post-natal beds are an essential service.
Chair of community group Stroud Maternity Matters Kate Buckingham who set-up the petition said: “Post-natal care is not an unnecessary luxury.
“Stroud Maternity allows people to transfer from hospital or a home birth into a safe environment.
“Monitoring women and babies in house often picks up on issues that would otherwise be missed.
“We feel that the temporary closure of post-natal beds must be monitored so it does not become a standard fixture.”
Gemma Kay – who gave birth to her son Rory at the start of this month – is among those who have been unable to access the service.
“I wanted to stay for one night to have breastfeeding support and rest while staff were there to help and advise.”
Tiffanie Smith fears her son Alfie could have died had it not been for the post-natal care received in 2011.
Alfie was born feet first in the bath at home with the help of Tiffanie’s mother-in-law.
A midwife and ambulance arrived shortly afterwards.
“He needed oxygen,” said Ms Smith.
“We went into Stroud Maternity for a couple of days to recover and got essential care from the team who were all fabulous.
“After a couple of nights I went home but midwives visited us everyday.
“On day five I took him back for treatment and expressed how I was worried about his sleepiness and difficulty feeding.
“The next midwife who saw him called an ambulance.
“He was not breathing properly and his SATS were low.
“If I had been at home with him I may have thought he was just sleeping and he may well have slipped away.”
Katerina Hasapopoulos, who gave birth to three out of her four children at the unit, said: “The staff gave me relentless care, breastfeeding support, loving arms for my babies and the answers to all my questions.
“After each of my babies I returned for respite to establish breastfeeding.”
Another mother Eska-Aranka Green said: “They showed me how to be a mother, how to feed, dress, wash my baby, the basics I never knew.”
Claire Rudge, who suffered a miscarriage in 2016, says the care she received throughout her visits was second to none.
“Everything about the unit such as the antenatal classes, pregnancy yoga, baby massage, the care and time the staff can give you is what makes Stroud so special and such an important part in people’s journeys.”
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Deborah Lee said: “I wanted to reiterate our long-term commitment to the future of services in Stroud.
“There are no plans to close it.
“Despite making significant progress over the summer in recruiting new midwives, staffing remains challenging due to a combination of Covid-19-related sickness, other sickness absence and an ongoing national shortage of midwives.
“If a mother or baby born at Stroud needs postnatal care that requires in hospital monitoring, this will be accommodated at Gloucestershire Royal.
“The community midwifery service in Stroud remains unchanged.”